DISCLAIMER: I don't own Star Trek: Voyager or any of the characters on the show. I merely borrowed them to put them into a little story that is all mine.
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An Unexpected Turn
There was a very loud bang and a very angry curse, in Klingon. The engineering crew looked up from their respective stations and positions, glancing worriedly in the direction of the noises and then at each other, wondering if anybody dared to check on their Chief.
Vorik squared his shoulders and, almost, sighed, until he remembered that he was Vulcan and was therefore not supposed to sigh. He walked staunchly towards the console under which Lt. Torres was barely visible.
"Lieutenant, may I be of assistance?" He enquired when he was within earshot of the feisty Klingon, but not within actual reach.
"Now, what in Kahless' name makes you think I need assistance?" Came a growled reply.
"Well, you appear to be in some... " Vorik paused, searching for the appropriate thing to say and came up blank.
"Some what?" B'Elanna yelled.
"Predicament! Yes, that is it. You appear to be in a predicament." Vorik blurted, which was not very Vulcan.
He watched with the Vulcan equivalent of horror as B'Elanna wiggled around and crawled out of the cramped space she was in, how she then proceeded, in what seemed to be a strangely slow motion, to charge on him, stopping herself just before she hit him, throwing a spanner right across engineering and then stomping out the main entrance, yelling expletives in a number of languages.
Vorik stood motionless, some might have assumed frozen, and stared after her. It was only his Vulcan stoicism that prevented him from jumping out of his skin, when Carey clapped him on his shoulder and sent him back to his station, reminding everyone that they had jobs to do, before looking after B'Elanna's console himself.
Clearly Voyager's resident half-Klingon was unhappy. One might be inclined to say angry. Word had obviously not gotten around yet, but the reason for her anger was Tom, who had deemed it necessary to cheat on her with about ten different holograms and then declaring that it wasn't cheating when you didn't do the deed with actual human beings, or any other humanoid species for that matter.
She had kicked him out of their shared quarters and told him to never talk to her again. She knew that that was not going to be possible, but outside of work and the times they were on duty and had to share the same air during meetings, she would not acknowledge his existence.
Once Voyager's rumour mill would get wind of this, B'Elanna knew, they would mostly side with him and blame her for driving him away to begin with. Sufficient to say that she was seething.
She needed an outlet for her anger and regretted that Starfleet regulations clearly did not condone murder or bodily harm inflicted by or on any crew member.
If she were on a Klingon ship, it would be downright expected of her to defend her honour, but nooooo, she had to get stranded in the Delta Quadrant on a Starfleet ship. Just her luck.
For now she stomped through the corridors on Voyager, which indicated to everyone that an approach was no recommended. She would need to check on the holodecks to get time there as soon as any was available to tear some holographic representations of a certain flyboy apart.
Regulations be damned.
Her exercise programs would be useful, but an actual sparring simulation might have its benefits as well. Though not many people came to mind that were suitable sparring partners.
Throwing spanners at her team was not an option unfortunately.
Without realizing it, she eventually found herself in front of astrometrics. Seven of Nine's domain. B'Elanna frowned.
Why had she stopped? Why did she not just stomp past? She had done so with all other departments? Why stop here? And why not move on?
Perhaps it was the fact that she all of a sudden felt a little calmer than she had since she found out about Tom. That alone gave her pause and her thoughts invariably turned to the astrometrics officer herself.
Whilst she had been getting along with Seven lately, she wouldn't exactly call the ex-Borg a friend. Not yet anyway, but it actually looked as if they were heading that way. B'Elanna certainly wasn't the type to go looking for a friend's shoulder to cry on. But it was quite evident that she had walked herself here. The question was, why?
Before she could even begin to guess the door swished open and out came Seven. She almost collided with the diminutive chief engineer.
"Lieutenant?" Seven enquired with a raised brow. She had stopped short of running into the other woman, but did not actually step back, forcing B'Elanna, who also did not think to step back, to crane her neck to look up at Seven.
"Seven. Hi. How are you?" B'Elanna couldn't think of anything to say.
"I am adequate. May I be of assistance?" The ex-Borg asked as she watched the woman in front of her, taking in every detail. She detected the half-Klingon's elevated heart rate, dilated eyes and aggressive posture and concluded that the lieutenant was angry.
Seven had a lot of experience in recognizing the signs. Though she did not think that B'Elanna was angry at her. She could think of no reason she would have given the other woman to be angry.
"No. Yes. No. Argh. I wouldn't know how you could help me." B'Elanna blurted.
Seven raised both her eyebrows. "I see. But you indicate that help is what you need." In truth, Seven did not see, but she didn't know what else to say.
"Maybe. I don't know. Can we talk somewhere more private? Your quarters maybe?" B'Elanna heard herself ask.
"Cargo Bay 2 is not a very private place." Seven simply stated.
B'Elanna stared at her wide-eyed, letting the statement sink in. Then comprehension dawned. Seven lived in Cargo Bay 2. Of course. She had ever since she had arrived on Voyager. That was over two years ago, though. Why did she still live there?
And just like that her anger was replaced by shame. She was angry over a worthless relationship that should never have happened to begin with and here was a grown woman, who was essentially homeless and nobody even seemed to care.
"That was thoughtless of me." B'Elanna said shaking her head.
"Elaborate." Seven said.
"I forgot that you don't actually have your own quarters. Why is that exactly?"
"My alcove is in Cargo Bay 2." Seven replied matter-of-factly. There did not seem to be any other reason. None she could think of anyway.
B'Elanna was aghast. "And why did we not move one into quarters for you, so you can have your own living space? I mean, I would need to reroute some energy coils, because no quarters allow for the energy consumption of an alcove right now, but it's doable. We could even try and modify an alcove and put it in as a headrest, so you could lay down in an actual bed and sleep or regenerate, whatever you need."
Instead of beating the crap out of something or someone as she had wanted to do up until three minutes ago, B'Elanna figured, she could use the excess energy that was coursing through her body in a more productive way.
It was Seven's turned to stare wide-eyed at the chief engineer, who seemed to have forgotten all about her anger and was suddenly contemplating a project that would essentially change Seven's life aboard Voyager.
"Whaddaya say?" B'Elanna asked, happy for a distraction.
Seven was speechless and blinked rapidly at the shorter woman. Things had taken a rather unexpected turn.
The crew on the bridge was treated to the sight of a whirlwind engineer, who had a baffled looking ex-Borg in tow, flying out of the lift and making a bee line for the Captain's room, who was herself sitting in her chair, and all anyone could hear was the order "Captain. A word. Now."
Raised eyebrows all around, followed by a hush as a very irritated looking captain got out of her chair and stomped into her ready room.
"B'Elanna, if this is one of your arguments with Seven, I don't want to hear it. I thought the two of you had finally started to get along." Janeway was ready to throw a force ten glare at the two young women. She frowned when she noticed that B'Elanna was holding Seven by her wrist, but not in an unfriendly way. Seven had an expression on her face that Janeway had never seen on her. It looked like a mix or surprise, hope and something approaching joy with a little confusion thrown in the mix as well.
The ex-Borg's eyes were on B'Elanna, occasionally wandering down to the half-Klingon's hand holding her wrist.
B'Elanna's free hand was making a dismissive motion. "None of that stuff, Captain."
"Then care to explain why you are breezing into my office like this and in a manner like that?" Janeway asked impatiently.
At that B'Elanna's hand moved up to Seven's elbow, which it grasped and pulled in order close the gap between the two women, then it wandered up to Seven's shoulder, where it stopped and rested in a reassuring manner.
All three women were watching the hand as if it had a life of its own. It was unsettling.
B'Elanna blinked and shook her head, then turned to her captain: "Well, Captain, you see, I rather unexpectedly found myself in front of astrometrics today. I might have had a little tantrum in engineering, though nobody was harmed in any way, safe my pride maybe. Thing is, I had to throw Tom out, because that p'taq cheated on me, so I wanted to hit something, or somebody. I was really angry when I left engineering, but I didn't hit anybody, which is probably lucky for everybody all around."
"Where is this going?" Janeway interrupted the rambling woman.
"Right. Well, I kinda ran into Seven here and didn't really know why. I think I wanted to talk to someone, or maybe ask her to a sparring session on the holodeck, because it's different than beating up holograms and Seven is a good sparring partner. So I asked her, if we could talk somewhere private, maybe her quarters. But Seven said that Cargo Bay 2 is not very private, which is when it suddenly occurred to me that my problems are rather petty and I shouldn't waste my energy on that idiot flyboy, because Seven is actually homeless and that's a much bigger problem."
Janeway noticed an extremely uncharacteristic smile gracing the ex-Borg's features and felt a headache come on right between her eyes as she tried to make sense of what she was being told.
"I'm sorry, homeless? What do you mean?"
"Seven lives in a cargo bay, Captain. So that means she is essentially homeless, because she has no privacy to speak of, no place to retire to, because people walk in at all hours of the day, no personal save haven and not even her own bathroom. Which begs the question, where do you even shower?" The last was directed at Seven, who blinked in surprise at being addressed.
"The doctor lets me use the shower in sickbay." She said.
"See what I mean, she is homeless? How could we have overlooked this? I want to put an alcove into one of the empty quarters. I need Seven and Harry to help me reroute energy coils and make all necessary changes to the alcove and energy grid. I want to do this right away, and once Seven is moved, we can think of a design to modify the technology and combine it with a bed, so Seven can sleep in a bed or regenerate, whichever she would like to do. That requires you to assign her quarters and give approval for the project, which is why I decided to come and see you right away."
Janeway sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. B'Elanna was talking a mile a minute and it took the captain a moment to sort out the important information among the rambling bits.
"Of course. You are right." She said finally. "I am not sure how we have let this slide for so long. I always planned on giving you your own quarters, Seven, but with one thing and another. I know, that's no excuse. I can't make an excuse. I actually have to apologize to you. I am so very sorry. B'Elanna is completely right. Since there are no pressing issues right now, I want you to make this your priority. Harry is at your disposal as is anyone else from your staff that you need on this. I will get Chakotay to find you suitable quarters right away. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, B'Elanna."
B'Elanna's hand now moved across Seven's shoulder to her other shoulder and proceeded to squeeze Seven and pull her even closer. She was grinning triumphantly.
"Thanks, Captain. We'll be right on it." And without knowing what possessed her, she turned to kiss Seven's cheek.
Seven blushed crimson. Janeway's jaw hit the floor. B'Elanna, unperturbed, took Seven's hand and pulled the unresisting ex-Borg out of the captain's ready room. Janeway was just about able to shout a "dismissed" after them, before they were out the door again.
"What the heck just happened?" Janeway asked the empty room and decided to have a bucket of coffee before worrying about her two surrogate daughters.
Everything was put in motion within the hour. Chakotay was at first surprised to receive the Captain's orders to assign crew quarters to Seven, but then had to admit that it was about time and felt guilty for not having thought of this himself. He hadn't always been fond of the ex-Borg, but the young woman had proven herself in the two years she had been aboard Voyager and it was high time she was treated like everybody else.
Harry was elated for Seven and more than happy to help on the project.
Word got out in record time. The majority of the crew was baffled that literally nobody had thought of or addressed the fact that Seven didn't have her own quarters and that the ex-drone's living arrangements had been taken for granted.
A few people, those who considered themselves Seven's friends, like Sam Wildman and Neelix, were ashamed of themselves. Then there were those, who didn't get what the fuss was about, and even one or two, who were secretly disgruntled that they would not be able any longer to gaze at Seven whilst she was regenerating.
The unexpected side effect was that nobody cared when Tom's and B'Elanna's breakup made the news. Some people were surprised that Tom was still alive when they heard that he had been cheating. Others admired the fact that B'Elanna displayed no signs of anger or bitterness, but instead threw herself enthusiastically into a project that benefited her former arch-nemesis.
And then there was Seven.
The ex-Borg moved her few belongings into her new quarters right away. The doctor approved her fit to attempt sleep and favour it over regeneration when possible, but mandated that she needed to regenerate at least every 72 hours for a six hour period.
Whilst B'Elanna and Harry worked on the plans to integrate an alcove into her new quarters, Seven set about deciding where it would best be put and then decorated her quarters using her excess of replicator rations.
Her research into the subject was extensive and she chose a few knickknacks that she found aesthetically pleasing as well as gifts from Naomi, a piece of the Raven and a few photographs Neelix had insisted on giving her from various crew events that she had been forced to participate in.
She then decided to do something she had not considered before. But this seemed to be a good time to try something new. She ditched her biosuit. It was designed to aid her remaining implants, but Seven had become increasingly aware of how much it objectified her in the eyes of the crew. The glances she received, especially from male crew members, had started to make her feel uncomfortable and she had often overheard their sexually explicit comments when they thought she could not hear them.
Instead or replicating another biosuit, she modified the design into undergarments that would essentially serve the same function, but could be worn underneath more regular attire. Then she replicated a pair of black slacks, a light blue blouse, flat, black shoes and put everything on.
The heavy biosuit was downright restrictive in comparison to the lightness of her new garments. She found the sensation utterly delightful. Checking her mirror image, she nodded in approval and left her new quarters to seek out the chief engineer.
She had a favour to ask.
The first indication Captain Janeway had that something was afoot was an increase of reports from the EMH. More than a dozen crew members had reported into sickbay with various injuries sustained from walking into walls, bulkheads, getting stuck in closing elevator doors, colliding with other crew members or simply falling over.
There were quite a few bruises, a bloody nose, a broken finger and a sprained wrist. Nobody seemed to be willing to tell what had distracted them so to be this clumsy.
Janeway decided to head to sickbay and investigate herself. On the way she would grab a bite to eat in the mess hall. It was also a good place to catch some gossip. It was unlikely that nobody knew anything about the source of these mysterious injuries.
As it turned out, she didn't need to go that far. When the lift stopped next, a crew member fell backward into it landing at her feet. Looking up she found Seven of Nine striding towards the lift.
She reached out to haul the fallen crewman to his feet. "Do you need me to accompany you to sickbay?"
"No, no, no, no. Thanks. I'm good. Thanks. Captain. Seven. Thanks. Bye." He stuttered and fled.
"Captain." Seven nodded and entered the lift. Janeway couldn't decide, if she wanted to leave or stay as she stared at Seven, who was a vision in her simple, but elegant get-up. There was nothing remarkable about Seven's new outfit, which made it so utterly confounding and unexpected. It enhanced Seven's beauty in a way that a biosuit never could have.
"Captain? Are you exiting the lift or will you be going elsewhere?" Seven enquired, quite oblivious.
Janeway got a grip and joined Seven inside the lift. "Say, Seven, have you noticed anything unusual in the last hour or so?"
"The crew has been unusually clumsy. I am unable to detect any intoxicants, however. I was considering a ship wide scan for any contaminants that might have this effect on the crew." Seven said immediately.
"I don't think that will be necessary." Janeway said bemused.
"You should not underestimate the situation, Captain. A clumsy crew could potentially endanger the ship." Seven said earnestly.
"No doubt, Seven, but they will get over it. They just have to get used to your new look." Janeway said now openly smiling at the ex-Borg.
"I do not understand." Seven said, eyebrows raised.
"No worries, Seven. Are you headed for engineering?" Janeway asked.
"I will accompany you." Janeway said.
When the two women walked into engineering, everybody stopped what they were doing. Janeway generally commanded a certain reaction, as did Seven, especially when she came into engineering considering that her former animosity with the chief engineer was still fresh in everyone's memories.
But this was different. Somebody dropped a pad, another crew member a spanner, and a head met the underside of a console, which sounded painful.
"Why in Kahless' name is nobody working?" B'Elanna asked striding out of her office. She was very much in tune with engineering and noticed the slightest differences in her work environment. When Carey pointed toward the main entrance, she turned to see what was going on.
"Holy mother of Kahless." She exclaimed at the sight of Seven.
"I beg your pardon?" Seven said.
"What happened to you? Where is your biosuit?" B'Elanna said and walked up to and around the younger woman, appraising her from all angles.
"I disposed of it. I thought that a change in attire was required." Seven stated.
"I approve. One more thing that should have happened ages ago. Good on you, girl." B'Elanna grinned. Turning around to her crew she yelled: "What's the matter with you? Never seen a woman in slacks and a blouse? Get back to work you lot."
They didn't need to be told twice.
Janeway laughed. She had to tell someone. "I don't know how long Seven has been walking around like this, but at least during the last hour over a dozen crew members have reported into sickbay with various injuries caused by running into things."
"I take it they all had unexpected encounters with our ex-Borg?" B'Elanna grinned.
"That's my guess." Janeway confirmed.
"Unbelievable. Given that those darned biosuits are a lot more revealing, it's telling how different the reaction is when she is clothed like everyone else. Seven, you look stunning. Please never wear biosuits again."
"I believe that I something I can promise you." Seven said and then offered a shy smile, which made B'Elanna's heart skip a beat.
The half-Klingon blinked and cleared her throat, something seemed to have gotten stuck in it.
"Right, well, since you are both here, how about you check out the plans for the alcove integration?"
"I'd love to, but I have to get back to the bridge. Do send them to my console, though." Janeway said and took her leave. Seven simply nodded and accompanied the other woman into her office.
"Lieutenant, I would also have a favour to ask of you once we are done." Seven said when she saw Harry in the office as well. She didn't want to approach B'Elanna with him there.
B'Elanna smiled and squeezed her elbow. "Of course, Seven. Anything."
Harry briefly wondered what that was all about, then properly ogled Seven when he noticed her new outfit and, after an elbow to his ribs planted there by B'Elanna, started to explain what they had come up with.
Between the three of them they quickly decided on the best approach and came up with a working plan on how to install the alcove. The rerouting of the energy was the biggest challenge and required quite a bit of work. The alcove would simply be removed from the cluster of alcoves that it was currently connected to in Cargo Bay 2 and then beamed into Seven's new quarters. Harry would do the majority of the work in the quarters with the help of Vorik. The two women and Carey would concentrate on making the necessary adjustments to Voyagers energy grid. New, more powerful coils would be laid by additional crew members.
Eventually Harry went off to oversee the extraction of Seven's alcove in the cargo bay, leaving her alone with B'Elanna.
"So, what can I do for you?" B'Elanna asked the suddenly apprehensive looking ex-Borg.
"I need a favour and I am uncertain who else I should ask." Seven said looking away.
"Well, I'm all ears. What is it, Seven?"
"I have never... normally I..." Seven began and stopped twice. B'Elanna was surprised and curious. This was very unlike the cool and composed ex-Borg she knew. But then she was just starting to glimpse sides of Seven that were previously unknown to her as well. It was intriguing.
"You can tell me. I know I've not always treated you kindly. And you gotta admit you haven't exactly made it easy for me, but I've always treated you with honesty. If nothing else, trust that I'm honest with you." B'Elanna said in an attempt to ease the other woman's nervousness.
"Will you sleep with me?" Seven blurted.
B'Elanna's face adopted a carefully blank expression. Two things needed to be considered here, she knew. For one, Seven was very literal in the use of her language. B'Elanna could not recall ever having heard her use a euphemism or metaphor. For another, ex-drone or not, the woman was stunning, she could have the pick of the litter, if she wanted to sleep with someone in whatever way one could sleep with another person, and therefore she was way out of B'Elanna's league. Which left only one possible conclusion.
"Are you asking me to have a sleepover with you, Seven?"
"I believe that is the appropriate expression, yes." Seven said. She still looked uncertain, because B'Elanna hadn't actually answered her yet, but at least she hadn't said "no" outright.
"Okay, I have two questions: Why do you want a sleepover and why with me?" B'Elanna tried to sound casually curious. She somehow didn't want Seven to think that she would never consider it or get the ex-Borg to retreat behind her armour, because B'Elanna was tactless. In truth, she was intrigued.
Seven considered her answer carefully. "I have never attempted sleep. I am uncertain as to what to expect. I have researched the subject and... I do not relish the thought of nightmares. Regeneration is dreamless, sleep is not."
B'Elanna nodded. She'd had plenty of nightmares in her time. Given Seven's experiences as a drone and the memories she still carried, they were a likely occurrence.
"Yeah, I get that. So, why me? It's not as if we're the best of friends. You should have someone with you, who you trust." She said keeping her expression open and looking into the taller woman's eyes.
"I trust you implicitly." Seven stated simply. That took B'Elanna off guard.
"I'm not sure I deserve your trust." She said carefully.
Seven clasped her hands behind her back and cocked her head to the side. "Why not? You have never done anything to betray my trust. You are honest and honourable. That you were unkind and insulting does not mean that you cannot be trusted. Our past altercations were not a question of trust, but a clash of wills. I am stubborn and so are you. I have superior knowledge of many things, including engineering, but not necessarily superior to you in that department. You are a most capable engineer. Whenever I deemed it necessary to push back and challenge you, it was merely to enable you to see my point of view, although I admit that I may not have done this in the most efficient way. Antagonizing you was a beneficial side effect, but not the purpose of my challenges."
B'Elanna stared wide-eyed and slack-jawed. Did Seven just admit that she had purposely antagonized her? And also just paid her several compliments?
The half-Klingon had no clue what to make of this and if she should be insulted, angry or flattered. In the end only one thing Seven said kept ringing in her ears. "Beneficial side effect?"
"You are a passionate woman and more alive than anybody else I know. I do not believe that I can learn the depth of human or humanoid emotion by receiving lessons from a hologram or having philosophic discussions with Mr. Tuvok, a Vulcan, or Captain Janeway, who has to be a role model to her crew, which often means restraining her true emotions. Watching you triggers an emotional response in me and I get to experience something that nobody else seems to be able to bring out in me."
B'Elanna had to sit down. She let herself fall heavily into the chair behind her desk. There were so many things running through her head all of a sudden that she had no idea how to sort through everything or where to begin.
She had suspected that Seven had sometimes just egged her on to get a more extreme reaction out of B'Elanna just because she could. Seven could be extremely reasonable and was an excellent listener; often there was just no reason why they should have started a fight to begin with. But if Seven actually made her mad on purpose it would explain a lot.
On the other hand B'Elanna had to wonder why she had let the ex-Borg carry on like that. Just because B'Elanna was half-Klingon and could have a terrible temperament, didn't mean she had to let it out all the time. She was a senior officer and the chief on engineering, after all, she was supposed to be a role model as well, but when it came to the beautiful blonde standing across from her now, she didn't seem to be able to hold back.
And since when did she think of Seven as beautiful anyway?
"Okay." She said. She couldn't think of anything else to say. Though some soul-searching seemed to be in order.
"Okay?" Seven asked.
"I will sleep with you." B'Elanna said and as she said it images of her and Seven sleeping together in the same bed and then maybe doing more things than just sleeping came unbidden to her mind. She would take the sofa.
For a moment it looked as if Seven was going to make a step towards her, maybe embrace her, but then the taller woman stood a little straighter and nodded. "Thank you, Lieutenant. If you could be at my quarters at 10pm, I would appreciate it."
"Err, sure. Should I bring anything?" B'Elanna had no idea what the protocol was when it came to sleepovers with ex-Borgs.
"I believe you will need your sleep wear. Nothing else is required." Seven said, nodded and left B'Elanna's office.
"I wish somebody would explain to me what just happened." B'Elanna said to no one in particular.
B'Elanna finished her shift late. It was almost 9pm before she left engineering. If it hadn't been for her... well, what was it? A sleepover date? An appointment maybe? She sighed and ran her hands through her hair. Yeah, maybe an appointment, but there was a tiny voice in her head that told her a date would be much preferable.
She refused to give it too much thought and headed for her quarters. She was hungry and knew she should be eating something. But for some reason her stomach was full of something others, those that were non-Klingon or even half-Klingon, might've called butterflies.
Once home she changed out of her uniform, took a quick shower and put on a sweater and some joggers to be as comfortable as possible and packed a small overnight bag. It had been so long since she last had any kind of sleepover that she had to think a minute on what she should pack.
By the time she was done it was time to head to Seven's new quarters. B'Elanna wondered what they would look like, how Seven might have decorated them.
She looked at herself in the mirror before she left her quarters. She'd settled for a smarter looking version of joggers and sweater. She wanted to be comfy, but she also didn't want to look to shabby. After all, it was unlikely that Seven would look shabby.
It was 10pm on the dot when she rang the chime to Seven's quarters. The door opened promptly, admitting her. Seven, however, was nowhere to be seen.
B'Elanna stepped inside, unsure for a moment if she was in the right place.
"Please accept my apologies, Lieutenant, I will be with your momentarily." Seven called from the direction of the bedroom. It was her voice alright, but she sounded rather different than usual.
B'Elanna dropped her bag and wondered, if she should check on Seven, or if she should sit down on the sofa. Then again, Seven hadn't told her to take a seat.
She doubted that Seven would be opposed to her taking a seat, but... oh, for Kahless' sake, how was that for over-thinking it?
B'Elanna ran her hands through her hair, messing it up in the process.
It was probably safest to have a look around and not go anywhere or sit down for the moment. So she had a look at Seven's living room. There were photos of Naomi and Sam Wildman and one with that blue Flotter person from the holodeck. There were photos of various events that had taken place onboard since Seven had joined the crew. All of them contained members of the crew, mostly the senior staff, and an often reluctant or out-of-place looking Seven of Nine herself.
One photo showed B'Elanna, apparently in deep conversation with another crew member that was not in the frame. B'Elanna stared at it. She had never seen it before, didn't even know a photo like that existed. Surprising herself she found that she liked it. B'Elanna rarely liked photos of herself.
The question was, though, why Seven would have it in her collection here on the shelf?
Speaking of the ex-Borg, where was she? She still hadn't emerged from her bedroom.
B'Elanna decided to investigate. She approached the open door to Seven's bedroom slowly, almost carefully.
"Seven? Are you alright in there?" She inquired stopping just outside.
"I am functioning within acceptable parameters." Came a somewhat muffled reply that didn't sound at all as if that was the case.
"What the heck?" B'Elanna said more to herself than Seven.
"Lieutenant? I am unfamiliar with that expression."
"Oh, for crying out loud. I'm coming in." B'Elanna said, throwing her hands up and bracing herself for whatever sight she would find.
She was not prepared to find a half-naked ex-Borg, who had apparently become stuck in some kind of garment. It would appear that Seven had tried to put a shirt or a blouse, it was hard to tell which, on or maybe tried to pull it off and had gotten herself stuck on the way out over her head, or in, depending on what she had been trying to do.
As a result the former drone stood somewhat comically beside her bed, her upper body mostly naked safe for a bra, pants trying to make their way down, because they were unbuttoned and the zipper was down as well, and arms and head stuck inside a shirt, or blouse, maybe.
B'Elanna stood and stared blinking rapidly. A part of her wanted to howl with laughter, because this was among the funniest unexpected things she had ever seen. A larger part, however, gaped at the struggling woman in front of her, noting the state of undress, the various visible implants and how incredibly sexy the ex-Borg looked in a situation that was anything but sexy.
"Lieutenant?" Seven now said sounding uncertain.
B'Elanna shook her head and tried to get a grip on herself. "Yes?"
"Would you be able to assist me in my predicament?" Seven asked.
"Umm..." Would that involve touching the other woman? B'Elanna's mind went blank for a second. She shook her head once more, clearing all kinds on unbidden images from her mind. "Sure." She finished. And then added: "But only if you stop calling me Lieutenant. We are off duty and in your quarters. I'm here for a sleepover. People tend to call each other by their first name, especially when they are close enough to be sleeping over and helping each other with garment emergencies."
Then she resolutely walked over to the taller woman and assessed the situation. "Were you trying to get out of or into this?"
"Out. I believe my hair is stuck somewhere. But I seem to have chosen an unfortunate way of undressing. My arms appear to be stuck in this position." Seven said sounding for all intents and purposes sheepish.
"You know, you could just tear this apart and free yourself, right?" B'Elanna said adopting a gentle tone. She didn't want Seven to think that she was mocking her.
"That is true, but I did not believe that it was possible for me to become stuck like this and I also did not wish to destroy the blouse, because of my incorrect assessment of how best to remove it." Seven explained.
This time B'Elanna allowed herself a smile. She would never admit it, but right then and there Seven was downright adorable.
"Alright. Let's see. I'm going to pull your hair free. Don't worry, I'll be careful. And then I will peel this thing off you. Just don't move. Otherwise you will tear the blouse."
"Thank you, Lieu... B'Elanna." Seven said.
B'Elanna smiled again and proceeded to do as she had said. With an extra pair of hands and the ability to see what she was doing, the job was very easy and Seven was freed in no time.
That also meant she was topless. Seven rolled her shoulders and stretched her arms to be sure that there was no damage to herself. She also removed some tangles from her hair.
B'Elanna stared and quite suddenly felt a flush consume her from head to toe and something else that felt suspiciously like arousal. Given how beautiful und unselfconscious the former Borg was, this was hardly surprising. It was quite a normal physical reaction. But B'Elanna was not ready to have that reaction toward Seven.
"Right. I'll be in the living room." She said, tossed Seven's blouse at her and almost fled, not without emitting a growl.
Seven looked after her. The growl hadn't escaped her, neither had the tell tale signs of the other woman's arousal. But, did she flee because she was embarrassed or because she was repulsed?
Seven frowned. Instead of following B'Elanna, she decided to put on a long flannel pyjama. It was comfortable and seemed appropriate.
She found the half-Klingon sitting on the sofa, seemingly staring at nothing in particular.
Somehow B'Elanna had ended up sitting right in the middle of the sofa, which meant that, no matter which side of her Seven chose, she would sit very close to the other woman, because it wasn't a very big sofa. She opted for B'Elanna's left.
"Do you find me repulsive?" She asked in her direct manner.
B'Elanna's head whipped around. "What? Are you kidding me? No! Of course not. How could anybody find you repulsive?"
"The implants." Seven simply said.
"By the same token someone could find my head ridges repulsive. Or Tuvok's ears, or Tal Celes' nose ridges or Naomi's spikes. But they are a part of who and what we are. If someone is repulsed by that it's their problem. It should never be yours." B'Elanna stated forcefully.
"Then why did you run outside?" Seven asked in an uncharacteristically quiet voice.
B'Elanna sighed and looked at her fingers. "Before I answer, can I ask you a question?"
"Why me? Why did you ask me to have a sleepover? I know you said you trust me, but I can't be the only one. Surely Naomi would have been delighted to be your sleepover guest." B'Elanna looked up again and into Seven's eyes to make sure the younger woman didn't think she was offended or didn't want to be there.
"But Naomi Wildman, though my friend, is also a child and I would not want to impose my issues on her, especially if I do experience nightmares. Also, I trust you not to take advantage of me or make fun of me, or maybe make me feel like a fool. It is not easy for me to reach out to anyone. But I felt safest reaching out to you. You just said yourself that we are close enough to have a sleepover and call each other by our first names." Seven said looking down at her hands. She felt more self-conscious than she ever had before.
B'Elanna found herself reaching over and taking one of Seven's hands. "Thank you for coming to me. I am honoured to find your trust. Mind you, I've been calling you Seven for a while now. It's you, who seems to have a hard time calling me by my first name." B'Elanna added, gently teasing the young woman beside her.
"Indeed. But I believe it is your turn to answer my question, B'Elanna." Seven said looking up now and straight into her eyes.
B'Elanna faltered. Her impulse was to let go of Seven's hand and run out of the apartment. But that would have been foolish and not what she actually wanted to do. Instead she squeezed Seven's hand tightly.
"Well, you said it yourself. You trust me not to take advantage of you. I suppose that's it. I unexpectedly found myself faced with the fact that I could be doing just that. So I retreated to give you privacy." Whilst true, this was also as vague as B'Elanna managed to be without admitting the surge of attraction that she had felt in Seven's bedroom.
"Are you saying that you considered taking advantage of me?" Seven was confused. She was certain that B'Elanna was alluding to something, but she could not say what that might be.
"No. No. I would never even consider that. But it occurred to me that I could have, which was not appropriate."
"I must thank you then. In the past I have been taken advantage of too many times, I do not relish it." Seven said.
B'Elanna jumped to her feet. "What? Who? Give me their names, I will find them and throw them out of an airlock."
"That would be ill-advised. I informed Captain Janeway and she assured me that the crew members in question would be asked to keep their requests down to a manageable level."
B'Elanna had started to pace and now stopped. "Wait. What?"
"What requests are we talking about? In what way have they been taking advantage of you?"
"Work. I have vast knowledge and many skills. Quite a few crew members have been approaching me for help in the past few months, often asking me for Borg algorithms to use for security of personal or sometimes professional files. The use of astrometrics is also curiously popular. They have been taking advantage of my knowledge, my skill and most importantly my time."
B'Elanna plopped down beside Seven and sighed heavily.
"What did you think I meant?" Seven now enquired.
"I suppose resistance is futile." B'Elanna said resignedly.
"I thought that was my line." Seven said dryly.
B'Elanna squinted at the other woman. Seven's face seemed expressionless, but there was a glint in her eyes that betrayed her.
"Seven was that a joke?"
"Perhaps." Seven said allowing the slightest smile.
B'Elanna yawned widely all of a sudden. "I'm sorry. I seem to be more tired than I thought. It's been an insanely long day and so many unexpected things happened today, it might as well have been a whole week squeezed into a day."
B'Elanna had woken up after hardly any sleep that morning, furious with Tom. She'd spent most of her morning angrily trying to fix a console, which made things only worse and then had to throw a tantrum to get away. And somehow that had resulted in her being here, in quarters that had been Seven's only for a few hours.
A lot had happened that day, inside and around her. It was starting to take a toll.
"So, how do you want to do this? I don't think I can teach you how to sleep. But I can be here for you." She said after a moment.
"I believe we should lie down. And then closing one's eyes seems to be the next recommended step." Seven stood and walked towards her bedroom. When B'Elanna did not make a move she turned around.
"I thought you indicated tiredness. Are you coming?"
B'Elanna blinked. "You want me to come with you? Your bedroom? Your bed?"
"Yes. You are of no use to me out here." Seven said.
B'Elanna was not sure of what use she could be in Seven's bed. Or rather, of what use Seven expected her to be. B'Elanna was certainly beginning to form a very clear idea of what use she wanted to be in the bedroom, but sleep was not involved.
B'Elanna had yet to make a move. She sat frozen on the sofa and wished her mind was blank rather than full of images, fuelled by the fresh memory of seeing Seven half-naked.
So Seven returned, took both B'Elanna's hands and pulled her into a standing position. Then she grabbed the sleepover bag with one hand and pulled the unresisting half-Klingon into her bedroom with the other.
"Which side of the bed do you prefer to sleep on? My research suggests that most people have a preference. I am willing to go along with you. I have yet to develop a preference."
"Left." B'Elanna said automatically. She was trying to process what was happening.
"Very well. You can change into your sleep wear in the bathroom, if you wish, or here. But I know most people prefer to change in private for reasons that are unclear to me."
B'Elanna had a look of panic on her face, especially when Seven made to remove her pyjama bottoms, which were comfy to sit around in, but not to sleep in. She'd already taken off the top, thankfully wearing a tank top underneath.
So she grabbed her bag and fled into the bathroom without another word.
If she hadn't had already showered, she would've taken a cold shower then and there. As it was, she realized that she was too tired anyway, so she simply changed, brushed her teeth and returned into the now darkened bedroom.
Seven was already under the covers and B'Elanna quickly joined her. Resistance was futile, after all.
"Do you count farm animals?" Seven asked quietly.
"I'm sorry? What?" B'Elanna had no idea what Seven could possibly be talking about.
"I have read that sometimes one takes to counting sheep, when one is unable to fall asleep. Apparently the monotony of it allows for sleep to come." Seven explained.
"I don't normally have that problem." B'Elanna said with a yawn.
"How do you fall asleep then?" Seven asked.
"I close my eyes and let go. I'm often too exhausted anyway and fall asleep as soon as I am horizontal. It helps, too, when nobody keeps talking to you." B'Elanna said not unkindly.
"I apologize. I do not mean to keep you awake. You may proceed to sleep, if you wish." Seven said a little stiffly.
"Sev, I was joking. Yes, of course it's easier when it is quiet and you stop talking, but I understand where you're coming from. Have you tried just closing your eyes?" B'Elanna asked now.
"Affirmative. It does not work. I believe I must shut off my brain, but doing so would potentially endanger my life. Sleep is not worth dying for." Seven deadpanned.
B'Elanna giggled. And then stopped, because it was such an unlikely reaction to be caused by Seven. But then she couldn't help herself and giggled some more.
"I never knew how funny you were. You shouldn't hide yourself so much, Sev." She said and sighed. "I remember having nightmares as a child. My abuela used to take me in her arms and run her fingers through my hair until I fell asleep. It was such a soothing sensation. You don't need to switch your brain off, or your cortical node. You just need to relax."
B'Elanna felt Seven move on her side of the bed and all of a sudden the other women seemed to be much closer.
"Would you do that for me, B'Elanna? Run your fingers through my hair?" Seven asked.
There was a very long pause in which B'Elanna tried to make her heart stop racing, control her breathing and prevent herself from growling and pouncing on the other woman in order to ravish her senseless. Seven needed a friend and that was what she was going to be for her tonight.
So she reached out and pulled Seven's head down to her shoulder. "Come here, Sev. Relax. You'll sleep, I promise. And I will be here, no matter what."
She felt Seven move the rest of her body beside her and then an arm wrapped itself across her middle, thankfully above the blanket that covered her. Then B'Elanna gently threaded her fingers through Seven's long, silky hair, tracing patterns along the younger woman's hairline and neck.
B'Elanna knew then that she was capable of loving the ex-Borg and that there was nothing preventing her from falling more than she already had, deeper, stronger and longer than she ever had with anybody else before.
Had somebody told her this morning, after she kicked Tom out the previous night, that she would end up in bed with Seven of Nine, she would've tossed that person out of the next airlock.
As it was, the day may have taken a rather unexpected turn, but she wouldn't want it any other way.
"Goodnight, B'Elanna. And thank you for being here."
"Anytime, sweetie, any time."
She kissed Seven's head, closed her eyes and listened to Seven's breathing becoming slow and steady, a sign that the young ex-Borg had fallen asleep despite all her worries.
For a few more moments B'Elanna held onto the feeling of love and safety that almost threatened to overwhelm her and then drifted off to sleep inside Seven's warm embrace.
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